In the graphic memoir How to Baby (Dial, Apr.), New Yorker contributor Liana Finck uses single-panel comics, essays in comics form, and illustrated lists about baby gear and the Sisyphean task of infant care to chronicle her pregnancy and early days as a mother. Finck spoke with PW about parenting propaganda, her love of illustrated books, and the lonely days of new motherhood.

How did this book come to be?

I make many autobiographical drawings per day. I had drawings about being pregnant and planning for a baby and having a baby and raising a baby, so I pitched this book as a way to make narrative sense of my experiences. I started work on it when my son was just three months old and the shape of the book changed as I kept working on it. The final version has two parts: little flashes that I documented in the moment and a narrative that I built around those drawings later on. This book isn’t a comic; it’s a narrative with pictures.

I’ve always loved illustrated books. I loved kids’ books past the time that it was normal. I also loved the books that sat between comics and kids’ books, like Maira Kalman’s. It always felt like she was having a good time doing whatever she wanted. This was the first book where I felt like I could have fun.

Where does this book fit in with other parenting books?

I struck a note between parody and memoir. It’s a parody of books on how to parent an infant—older books that told you it was going to be beautiful and easy and didn’t mention anything difficult. I found them hilarious. Parenthood isn’t something that you need to trick people into, and those books felt ripe for making fun of. I’m also parodying the books that say parenthood is a horrible, difficult slog. Because of my own fears, that’s what got into my brain when I was planning to have a baby—that I’d never sleep again and it’s so scary and I need to buy all these things or else I won’t be able to handle it at all. That’s not true just as the rosy view is not true. Part of why I wrote the book was to figure out what I thought about parenthood. People would tell me that parenting an infant would be very difficult. I’d get a great night’s sleep and I’d be like, “Oh, having an infant isn’t difficult at all!” Later I would be up all night for a month.

What would you like to convey through the book?

I want to give companionship to readers: a means to vent their own feelings, whatever those are, even if they can’t be articulated. When I was pregnant, I felt cut off from people by my own physical limitations and, later, by my baby’s limitations. It was hard to see friends, and I needed a strong community—friends, writers, people I connected with online. I want to be part of that community for people who need it.

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